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Andrea Dovizioso on pole at Motegi
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso put in an immaculate performance in qualifying today to take his first ever MotoGP pole position and give himself the best possible chance for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan. The 24-year-old Italian continued the form he has shown throughout this weekend, moving up from second place in the two practice sessions yesterday and this morning, to take top spot in the qualifying shoot-out. Dovizioso’s rivals did their utmost to unseat him from pole in a gripping last few moments this afternoon, but it wasn’t enough and the Italian took his 14th Grand Prix career pole (9 x 125cc, 4 x 250cc) and his first in the premier class.

Looking comfortable and committed on his Honda RC212V, Dovizioso went top with just under half an hour of the session to go before Jorge Lorenzo nudged him back to second place with 23 minutes remaining. Then, with 12 minutes left on the clock, the Italian was back in front as he began to reel off a series of superfast laps. Casey Stoner briefly edged in front, but Dovizioso hit back immediately with a lap of 1m 47.001s, which was to be the fastest of the session. In the dying moments Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both had their last throw of the dice, but neither could better Dovizioso this afternoon and he held on to pole by 0.054 seconds from Rossi. The last time Dovizioso was on pole position was in the 250cc Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril in 2007 while riding a Honda RS250RW.

Dovizioso’s debut MotoGP pole was a welcome piece of good news for the Repsol Honda Team after his team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s crash yesterday during which he broke his collarbone, forcing him to retire early from the MotoGP race weekend. Pedrosa has returned to his home city of Barcelona in Spain and is expected to undergo surgery to plate the double fracture in the collarbone.

“I’m really happy to be on pole position and also surprised because I didn’t expect to get so close to going under a 1m 47s lap here. This is like my second home race because it’s the home of the team, which makes it even more special to get my first pole position here. I’m also so happy about the performance of the RC212V. We’ve got the electronics working really well here - the anti-wheelie system in particular - and also the power is very strong which helps a lot. We’re looking good for the race because my style is usually not to go at my absolute maximum pace in practice and qualifying, so I’m hopeful for tomorrow. I’d like to say thanks a lot to the team because they are working really well for me. It’s the race tomorrow that really counts though, so we’ll be concentrating hard to make sure we have a strong race.”

Qualifying Results
1 Andrea Dovizioso 1m 47.001 ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Valentino Rossi 1m 47.055 ITA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team
3 Casey Stoner 1m 47.105 AUS DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team
4 Jorge Lorenzo 1m 47.206 SPA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team
5 Colin Edwards 1m 47.464 USA YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha
6 Ben Spies 1m 47.648 USA YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Randy De Puniet 1m 47.752 FRA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Marco Simoncelli 1m 47.914 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
9 Alvaro Bautista 1m 48.002 SPA SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
10 Loris Capirossi 1m 48.068 ITA SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
11 Nicky Hayden 1m 48.182 USA DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team
12 Marco Melandri 1m 48.238 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
13 Aleix Espargaro 1m 48.371 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
14 Hiroshi Aoyama 1m 48.396 JPN HONDA Interwetten Honda MotoGP
15 Hector Barbera 1m 48.535 SPA DUCATI Paginas Amarillas Aspar
16 Mika Kallio 1m 49.480 FIN DUCATI Pramac Racing

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